Cumulonimbus—that might bear tornados like the one that picked up our trailer, reminiscent of other monsters we ran from, like the blood shoved artlessly between my heart and my grandfather’s, and how the family talks about nature, but we don’t mean the storm that almost crushed the horse barn with a toppled oak. we mean character, disposition, intent, tendencies we swear to ourselves we didn’t inherit, like our dark hair and freckles, and something along the jawline: a sharp jut of trees that were uprooted and left to die on their sides, a bruise turning colors, the roiling of the sky when it spun grey, green, purple, or how the tornado was a funnel, empty in the middle, on the inside, where whatever destructive force my grandfather hid, crouching, like how the cradle of light on the radar belied a horizon that was clear until the sky reached down and said, siren-sharp, this isn’t an impact you’re meant to survive. But in the morning, we walked out to the oak, and armed with chainsaws and rebar spines, we cut it into manageable pieces, and we mourned, dragging it away, leaving our wounds open to air, like the suspicious cant of a cloudless sky, a half-remembered prayer when infection had already silted the bloodstream, like surviving the impact but being ill-equipped to climb the crater. And we bear our genes like we bear the local news, with held breath and empty centers and assurances we can still build in the spaces we were torn from.
Isabel J Wallace is a queer writer and nurse working in Florida. The swamp has left her predisposed towards ghost stories and the certainty that something is always lurking just out of sight. She's been published in Malaise: a Horror Anthology, as well as in Passengers Journal.